Haven’t we all heard something on the similar lines of “We were lucky enough to be birthed before the era of technology took over” by someone who is elder to us?
As humans we all need at least some amount of interaction with our fellow mates. To see, touch, talk and listen. This is what separates us from other living organisms. But since the emergence of technology, this interaction has been limited. While children are more attracted to playing video-games secluded at homes rather than going out and playing a game of badminton, schools and colleges yet again proved the be a rescuer for the generation, in providing that basic interaction to the younger ones.
But Alas, this unfortunate pandemic robbed us of that contentment as well, and got us introduced to a virtual learning setup. A brand-new experience for the majority. Also, is this method of virtual learning really effective? Is it really fulfilling the whole purpose of this institution?
As rightly said by M. Scott Peck, “All human interactions are opportunities either to learn or to teach.” Though the education system and the teachers are trying their best to come up with ways and techniques that could enable students better understand the content of the subjects, students are finding it difficult to cope with the online teaching style, far be from enjoying or learning from this experience. Teachers are also having a hard time in value deliverance and trying to establish a connect with the students on a one-on-one basis. This has undoubtedly created a huge learning gap between the two entities.
When we talk about a virtual classroom, we forget that no two people have the same circumstances. There might be some who enjoy a proper study environment, whereas on the other hand, one might not even find a quiet spot to attend and pay adequate amount of attention in the ongoing class.
If we consider a broader aspect, the rural areas have had a different experience when compared with that of the urbans. While some even dropped out, according to the 15th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2020) Rural, 11% of the rural families have bought new phone since the lockdown and 80% of which were smartphones. Coping with new technology, internet expenses, the domestic environment are just some examples of barriers that might come in the way of one’s enthusiasm to attain education. The online platform might also have been a sort of relief for some, as it saved their time and energy from travelling to long distances to attend schools or colleges. So, it has also managed to work in favour of many for various reasons.
The environment in which a student and a teacher interact is considered to be of great importance. Wherein, even in a class full of students, a teacher could see and monitor everyone’s activities. Whereas in a virtual setup, let alone mentally, the teacher has no clue if the student is even present physically. Some students are even believed to make fun of their respected teachers for the problems they face due to their inability in handling the latest technology. Rather than cooperating or trying to understand the anxiety and dilemma of the teachers, students are also found taking undue advantage of this virtual platform and harassed their teachers. Logging in from a different id and using a foul language, muting or removing the teacher from a meeting, giggling, are things which are not acceptable. And our education system fails to but should cultivate in the students from an early stage, the right behavioural conduct in any given situation. The Bhaghpat incident shed some light on this topic, where a teacher is seen beating two of her students with a cane because they had allegedly sent her inappropriate messages, thinking they would get away with it as the online setup is here to stay. The ordeal created by this experience is immeasurable. The real question is, why aren’t these factors even remotely considered before declaring us as educated individuals?
The technology is certainly not to be blamed when we as humans fail each other. It is here to lend us a helping hand in this time of loaded troubles. The upsetting reality is, one can’t afford it and one misuses it. In Sherry Turkle’s words, “We expect more from technology and less from each other.”
The attitude of each individual in this scenario matters. If a person really wants to learn or if they are just doing for the sake of a degree. And does an education degree give you enough credibility for being termed as an educated individual? And are the criteria used for declaring us as educated beings even sufficient?
Our education system needs to buck up and sense the need to incorporate subject matter that demands attention, which is relevant to the world we live in. Before diving into the depths of any subject, teach them the fundamentals and basic values of respecting each individual for who they are and who they choose to be, that is educating them about topics like racism, casteism, intolerance towards other religions, the LGBTQ+ community, equal rights for women, identifying and smashing the presumed patriarchy that dominates our society, etc. Topics like sex education also needs to be included in the curriculum for the teenagers. On the other hand, introducing kids to topics like what is beautiful and what is ugly based on the colour of our skin and other physical appearances, is downright incorrect. And our education system needs to address these issues right away.
The education institution however has evolved in a number of ways from when it first began. Inculcating the right values and manners in a student were of utmost priority then as compared to now, where an invisible race to score good marks in the academics is the ultimate goal. Though it’s not at all a bad thing to score good marks, the insights you learn and grasp apart from the bookish content plays a vital role. As a responsible individual, you should have proper knowledge to evaluate a situation and distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.
This institution is so diverse in itself. India’s education has been digitally divided, where some have the privilege of laptops, and the others somehow get through with just a smartphone. Some have the luxury of a comfortable classroom with air conditioners, while others don’t even have proper benches to sit on.
From having open classrooms under the shades of a tree to learning through a screen, the human education system has come a long way. Because, education knows no boundaries and one never stops learning.